The specific needs of every business is unique: type of business, stage of growth, competitive pressures, location, resources available and the strategy you are pursuing are all key factors. Another significant part of your unique business ecosystem is your brand and creative collateral.  These elements make up the face of your business and are consistently the best way to communicate your strategic messaging.  If executed well, these resources can add significant value to your future growth.   Unfortunately a one size fits all approach on how to attack your design and branding needs does not exist.  Do a Google search for “website design” and you’ll find over 46 million results.  A similar search for “branding” yields over 164 million results.  This is a daunting amount of material to dive into.

branding + design in 4 options

Good news!  Thanks to huge advances in tech you now have a multitude of viable branding and design options available. As a professional servicing this industry for over 17 years I have observed these emerging trends in the branding and design world. This blog summarizes the current options available into four segments, allowing you to understand pretty quickly where your current business needs fit.  Each one has pros and cons, but depending upon your current situation one of these four options will be applicable to you.  While the lines are sometimes gray between these options, selecting the one best aligned to your unique needs will provide you the desired results.

Bonus: For the love of graphics we have created a worksheet so you can decide on the best option for you!


When you have one particular need and a very limited budget, this approach can be viable.  If you need a logo, website or print piece, there are a wide variety of providers offering budget solutions.  It will likely take you a good chunk of time to research and select DIY sources for each separate item (your website, logo, business card and other brand pieces). Be aware that after you select a given option you will still have the challenge of customizing it to suit your business (pictures, fonts, message, etc.).  While this can provide short term benefits, over time your brand message will not be uniform – creating more cost and challenges for you in the long term.

Check out our list of DIY recommended resources


This second option is a step-up as it provides access to better quality design services, some customer support and a more uniform message across your business collateral….all while keeping to a relatively conservative budget.  Single source packages are budget friendly because all of the elements provided have been pre-designed in advance, but offers customization to fit your business needs. How do they do this? In most cases the designer will be working from a template to reduce their time resulting in cost reduction for you. With this approach you will still have homework to do to determine just what solutions your business needs.  You can also expect that you’ll have to find the best way to use the final outputs to your advantage.

At a minimum you should expect the following from this solution:

  • Providers of these services are professional designers with a portfolio you can evaluate. This gives you an excellent opportunity early in the process to determine if a potential fit exists.
  • The package(s) offered should include multiple design elements. Common packages include a logo, simple website, one or more print pieces and collateral which can be tied into your social media activities.
  • Because one source is providing a range of solutions for you, the overall theme of the design should be uniform with consistent messaging. This is one of the biggest advantages of the single source package option and should not be understated.  You want to put your best foot forward and having a unified design across your collateral is a big step in the right direction.
  • Time: Typically a month from start to finish.
  • Cost: Can range from $1,000 to $2,500, largely depending upon size of the package being offered.

Click to request our branding package information



This solution is very common and typically from a small to medium sized design studio which has developed strategic core competencies in specific areas of brand and design. With the custom solution you will be provided the benefits of a tailored, custom design geared towards larger budgets. Once your business is more mature, your revenue stream is established and you have proven your business strategy, this option can be leveraged to take your business to the next level. Common characteristics of this option can include the general expansion of your brand, a product launch, a PR blitz or an event tailored for your niche.

At a minimum you should expect the following from this solution:

  • A detailed consultation from the creative director in which you discuss your business needs, aesthetics and budget.
  • Research your niche and industry.
  • Multiple opportunities throughout the project for you to provide feedback, course correction, etc.
  • High quality output.
  • A strong partnership that drives the project from origination to implementation.
  • Time: Expect these project to range between 1-12 months.
  • Cost: Your cost will vary widely, but expect to pay $2,500 to $50,000 depending upon the scope of work.

Click to see examples of extensive branding + design examples


This last option is the pinnacle of design services available to you.  What separates an agency from smaller design shops is scope of offerings.  The larger agencies provide expertise on business strategy, design, technical expertise, and PR/advertising services.  Smaller ones might go deep on a few of these and outsource the balance to trusted partners in their ecosystem.  Because of the wide scope of internal capabilities when you deal with an agency you will also deal with their overhead, hence the larger budget required.  Expect to carve out a budget of $50K+.

Hopefully the segmentation provided above is helpful in wading through the chaos of options currently available to you. It is important that you find the right solution(s) given your current business environment.